Quick Hits 6/4

*I was at a bit of a loss Friday when I checked Amazon.com's Graphic Novel bestseller charts. Five of the top ten spots were occupied by various volumes of Y: The Last Man for no obviously discernable reason. The Beat was nice enough to solve the mystery for me: apparently it's all NPR's fault. Seeing a quality book like Y get exposure is always nice and I'd be curious to see some Bookscan numbers over the next few weeks, but I don't know that we could do much to leverage the additional attention at MacGuffin. Media exposure like this is what can draw completely new readers into comics, and Y: The Last Man is a great book for that, but realistically those readers are going to go to a general bookstore to find the books, not a comics specialty shop (there's even a brief bit in the audio clip about being uncomfortable to ask for the comics section at a bookstore). What we need to be ready for is when someone who enjoys the series after hearing about it on NPR is waiting for a table at the restaurant next door and wanders over to kill some time. What direction do we point them in next?

*AIT/PlanetLar sent out a press release this past week to let retailers know that, for the next few months, they are going to pick up the 3% penalty that Diamond charges on reorders. Larry was nice enough to ask for my thoughts on the idea and include a quote in the press release. As I said there, it makes it much easier for me to decide where to get AIT/PlanetLar books from for our weekly reorder and it's a step that I'm surprised more publishers don't take. Unfortunately, ours is an industry that encourages retailers to take a strong initial position on inventory, one side effect of which is some retailers' tentative approach to less obvious hits. Since shops are ordering non-returnable with almost no upfront information, you can only blame a retailer so much for sticking with what they know will sell (and exactly how much they know will sell). Beyond just familiarity, though, discount plays a big part in how much of an inventory position a retailer will take. It's understandable to order more Marvel and DC product if you're getting them at 52% off and AIT/PlanetLar at 42% off. While that extra 3% will be nice for MacGuffin, a store that doesn't stock AIT/PlanetLar in the first place isn't likely to start because of 3 points of margin. Yet one more factor that leads to the industry's stunted growth patterns.


Blogger Joe Willy said...

I've been wondering lately if the 3-month lag time between when a book is solicited in Diamond's Previews doesn't also have a lot to do with retailer timidity. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but if you already have your orders for issues 1 and 2 in the que when issue 3 finally gets solicited just when number 1 actually gets delivered then doesn't that mean you don't know how well the title is actually doing until issue 3 or 4 is being solicited? And wouldn't that certainly keep a retailer from taking a chance on a series until or unless they "knew" it was going to sell X number of copies which usually means the number of pre-orders plus another copy or two which means when books catch fire they can't take advantage of it.

Plus, if no one ends up buying #1 or #2 they can't quit ordering it until the next issue solicitation which means they've probably been stuck ordering issues #3 and #4 at that point even though they can't sell them (especially when there are no copies of issue #1 for readers to start with as has happened to me numerous times in shops).

10:31 PM  

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